Dozens of eligible underclassmen have or will announce in the coming weeks that they are leaving early for the NFL, with each carrying various degrees of impact on their respective team’s prospects for the 2013 season.
This one will likely have as big of an impact as any other.
Largely overlooked and undervalued outside of Chapel Hill specifically and the ACC in general over the past two seasons, Giovani Bernard announced that he has decided to leave North Carolina and enter the 2013 NFL draft. The running back, who likely would’ve been included in the preseason Heisman mix, is foregoing his final two years of eligibility to make the leap.
A press conference has been scheduled for 2 p.m. ET today for Bernard to discuss the decision.
“I thoroughly enjoyed my three years in Chapel Hill and coming to UNC was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made,” said Bernard in a statement released ahead of the press conference. “I feel like the best decision for my future is to enter the NFL draft this year. I want to thank Coach Fedora, this coaching staff and the previous coaching staff for putting me in a position to succeed. I am on track to graduate and I plan on coming back to earn my degree in the Spring of 2014.”
A torn ACL suffered during summer camp cost Bernard all of his true freshman season in 2010, but the redshirt sophomore came back to earn All-ACC first-team honors the past two seasons. He led the conference in rushing, scoring and all-purpose yardage in 2012, and led the nation in punt returns average (16.4 yards per).
He accomplished all of that this season despite missing two games with a left knee issue.
“Gio is a special player and an even better person,” said UNC head coach Larry Fedora. “He flourished in our offense and was an outstanding leader for our program. After the season was over, we helped him gather as much information as possible so he and his family could make the best decision for his future. We support his decision and wish him nothing but success as he takes the next step in his football career. He is a tremendous ambassador for this program.”
Depending on which direction other players at his position take before the mid-January deadline, the 5-10, 205-pound Bernard could be the first running back selected in the upcoming draft.
LSU coach Les Miles is one of the more interesting figures in college football, as you all know.
To that point: He’s had the market cornered on Australian punters for the last six seasons. First it was Brad Wing — who was awesome, unlike the officiating in that video — in 2010 and 2011, then it was Jamie Keehn, who punted for LSU from 2012-2015.
But fear not, LSU has another Aussie punter this year in redshirt freshman Josh Growden. Take it away, Les:
I can only imagine Miles is referring to this when he said “speak Australian:”
Ohio State suspended wide receiver Torrance Gibson for the season, but the decision to ban the redshirt freshman didn’t come from coach Urban Meyer or the athletic department.
Meyer made that distinction known on Monday, via ESPN.com:
“It was not from the athletic department or football,” Meyer said during his weekly news conference Monday. “I disagree with it.”
Meyer didn’t provide any details on what transpired or what, if anything, could be done about it given his opposition to the discipline. Ohio State has not commented on the nature of the violation.
Gibson was suspended for a violation of Ohio State’s student code of conduct. He was previously suspended for a game during the 2015 season, a year in which he redshirted.
Georgia coach Kirby Smart said running back Nick Chubb, who tore his PCL last year in a gruesome injury, is 100 percent ready to go for the Bulldogs’ opener Saturday against North Carolina.
Smart said Chubb won’t be on a “pitch count,” confirming that the star running back won’t be limited at all in Week 1. His availability will be key for a Georgia offense that hasn’t named a starter yet, though could very well go with true freshman Jacob Eason over senior Greyson Lambert.
Chubb, who was injured Oct. 10 last year in Georgia’s loss to Tennessee, carried 92 times for 747 yards with seven touchdowns in 2015. The junior has 2,294 yards and 21 touchdowns to his name since exploding onto the national scene as a freshman in 2014.
Unlike his counterpart in Austin, Kansas State coach Bill Snyder revealed who his starting quarterback for Week 1 will be on today’s Big 12 teleconference.
Jesse Ertz, who started K-State’s season opener last year only to suffer a season-ending torn ACL on the first play of the game, will get the nod for the Wildcats’ opener at Stanford on Friday.
Ertz beat out Joe Huebner and Alex Denton to win the job back.
“In all reality, he’s been more consistent than the other two,” Snyder said.
K-State went 6-7 last year with Huebner as its quarterback and lost to Arkansas in the Liberty Bowl. Huebner completed 47.6 percent of his passes for 1,837 yards with nine touchdowns and 10 interceptions, and also rushed 180 times for 613 yards with 13 touchdowns.
Ertz, a former two-star recruit from Burlington, Iowa, hadn’t appeared in a college game before suffering that season-ending injury against South Dakota State last year.